A Hundred Hole Golf-a-thon, Jodi Reimer and the 20 pounds of story we carry.
Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on an ultra long-haul non-stop flight from Vancouver to Sydney means you can really get to know a girl. For 15 hours, Jodi and I got to talk about everything and nothing, suspended above oceans and crossing continents, and connect our hearts.
I remember Jodi, tall and lithe, as the girl who went out for late night and early morning runs. She carried protein bars and offered us trailmix from her carry-on.
There were three of us sharing a room: Jodi, the lovely Jenna Liesch (then still praying for a babe; now a mama) and I. We explored Sydney Harbor and took silly pictures on our drive to Hillsong Church. We dressed up for Colour Conference in the day, fussed over lipstick, hair and shoes, and prayed, cried and worshiped with our two other traveling companions: the beloved Helen Burns and ever-glorious Loretta Hibbs.
What I’ll never forget, however, is the morning Jodi came bouncing into our hotel room—a little sweaty, but vibrant from her run. In her arms she carried a tray with five large Gloria Jean lattés.
I was early morning bedhead fuzzy. She, on the other hand, had run back two kilometers uphill to bring five of us the best morning coffees in the neighbourhood.
It struck me that Jodi has a grandé kind of heart.
Fast forward 18 months.
Last Monday Jodi Reimer joined Ryan Schwarz and Pastor John Burns of Relate Church (who first began this epic challenge three years ago) ran 100 holes of golf in the annual 100 hole golf-a-thon. Together they raised money and awareness for Mercy Ministries, because just last year Mercy Ministries opened its first residential home in Canada for girls who face life-controlling issues, such as drug and alcohol addiction, depression, eating disorders, unplanned pregnancy, physical and sexual abuse and self-harm.
Jodi’s grandé heart has now expanded to carry the Hope of restoration and freedom for a whole crowd of young women up and down hills, determinedly blazing a trail, all the while carrying her own 20-pound load of story.
In her hand
Here’s the thing: Jodi is a professional golfer. During a very late night Skype chat Saturday night, Jodi reminds me that this is something she can do. It’s what’s in her hand. “I can golf and I can run,” she says. So, saying yes was a no-brainer when Pastor John Burns asked her to join the second annual golf-a-thon last year.
But since our human inclination is not to jump at the idea of any suffering, even if it’s for a great cause, I asked her: “So what’s the heart connection? Why do you do this?”
Her twenty pounds of story has been heavy, but she doesn’t sidestep the answer. Maybe it’s because we’ve crisscrossed the world together or maybe because it’s simply time to share more of her story, but she moves into it:
“It’s almost like my life has been a series of little Mercy stories,” she says.
She carries a story of abuse as a little girl and then trying to cope through her teenage years. There’s a story of choosing the wrong crowd, hardcore drug abuse and addiction. There’s also a story of friends and a high school counselor who loved her enough to intervene.
“All my little Mercy stories are independent and yet together they form who I am.” I can’t help but see girls who are going through difficult and vulnerable situations and think: Thank God there are some people who are going to benefit from a place like Mercy.”
“God’s been gracious to take me along and bit by bit show me His hand through my life,” says Jodi. “I can see on all the different stages of my life how His hand of mercy has been there.”
Then she says: “If you ask me where my heart is and what that heart connection is, I can’t even describe how important a place like Mercy can be to a young girl.”
Hitting the Wall
That was the cause she was fighting for—her own and for the generations to follow her–when Jodi hit her wall on the 50th hole last Monday.
“When you get to that point of such sheer exhaustion and your performance goes down … Emotionally and physically, it was draining me from both ends, because I was trying to maintain a standard. And yet, I just couldn’t catch a break.”
She kept focusing on the next shot and said to herself: “Just keep going; don’t stop.”
Jodi adds: “Definitely what carried me through the second half, are the people who came out to support me.”
The Mercy girls (as the current residents of Mercy Canada are affectionately called) showed up to cheer on the golfers, some of her friends, as well as a 13-old-girl Jodi had been coaching and mentoring who stayed with her through the latter part of the day.
“I kept her in my sight,” says Jodi. “It was a constant reminder for me that people are watching and the next generation need to know that they are worth doing that for. Before they even need a home, they need to feel that sense of worth.”
Back to the big question of why she’s doing it. “It was an opportunity … I’m doing it for the young girls in my world, to know that they’re loved and valued,” says Jodi. “I feel a very heavy sense of responsibility of the whole Sister’s Keeper piece. We are our sister’s keeper. I’m not OK just sitting back and waiting and watching for someone else to step in.”
“There’s nothing worst than sitting back idly and not knowing what you can do to help.”
PLUS: Ke-ching! The golfing trio’s day of suffering resulted in a huge response from donors. At the end of the day, John, Jodi and Ryan raised a spectacular $100,000 for the cause. This translates into real lives touched, because every dollar raised means more girls can enter the program and find mercy, healing and freedom in her story.
Hearing Jodi’s story reminded me of a piece I wrote in 2009. On my way to the Walk for Mercy in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, I wanted to get my heart right into it—not be distant from the cause, so I asked for a connection.
That’s when Spirit whispered to me: “All girls are mercy girls.”
So, this piece is for me, for Jodi and for every one of us who has ever needed a little mercy along our way:
If I’ve ever battled with control that reaches in to put a finger, a hand, a chokehold on my very life, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever felt like giving in to the darkness that heaves in me, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever shied away from expressing all the Beauty, Life and Possibility within me, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever chosen less-than for myself, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever made a deliberate choice that did nothing but hurt me, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever turned away from Truth and Beauty living in me, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever handed my power over to someone or something else, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever consumed more than my fill, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever looked at my body and did not honour it, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever starved myself of the things I need to thrive, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever been rejected, dismissed, silenced or diminished, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever been hurt, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever entertained death, in myself or another, even for just a moment, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever come to a place of deep surrender, knowing I need help outside of myself, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever begged for mercy, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever longed for justice, I, too, am a mercy girl.
If I’ve ever cried for freedom, I, too, am a mercy girl.
So, wonderful SheLoves sistas and friends:
- How do you understood that you, too, are a mercy girl?
- What do you do when you hit your 50th hole wall?
- Who has brought you a latte on a tray or a cup of water on a hill? Who has shown up strong, with Love and mercy, for you?
- Who would you like to run up hills, blaze a trail and carry your own 20-pound story for?
-For more photos of PJ’s 100-hole golf-a-thon, click here.
-For another perspective on the 100 hole golf-a-thon, check out Musu’s story: Driving Home the Mercy Message
I like soggy cereal and if I could travel to every spot on the map of the world, I would. I am a whole lot of dreams and hopes and sometimes that makes me intense, but I am learning to be totally OK with it. I have three kiddos and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I like to believe us girls can be kind and loving to each other–be each other’s greatest supporters–and that will make us a force for great good on the earth. I also like to believe Love covers a whole lot of everything, including my mistakes and my Taroko Gorge gaps. I blog at idelette.com and tweet@idelette.